MANHATTAN, Kan. – Nine members of the Kansas men’s and women’s track & field teams recorded new career bests as the Jayhawks concluded the regular season Saturday at the Ward Haylett Invitational hosted by Kansas State University. Two members of the No. 1-ranked KU women’s team broke school records as several more improved their individual national standings with the preliminary rounds of the NCAA Championships just two weeks away.
Natalia Bartnovskaya posted a school record pole vault performance for the third time in five appearances this outdoor season, while also taking down the facility and meet records in the process. The junior cleared a top bar of 4.45 meters (14’7.25”) on her second attempt at height to again rewrite the KU record books. Her clearance vaulted her among the NCAA’s all-time performers as she cleared the 11th-highest bar in collegiate history.
The reigning indoor national champion in the event, Bartnovskaya’s vault moves her to No. 2 in this season’s NCAA rankings as she prepares to kick off her first trip to the NCAA DI Preliminary rounds in two weeks.
Another school record was rewritten Saturday, however it was by the lone Jayhawk competing at a meet other than the Ward Haylett. Senior Andrea Geubelle found herself among a competitive triple jump field of mainly ACC athletes at the Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta. The two-time Big 12 Champion was never challenged in the event after she took down her own school record on her first attempt of the day. Geubelle leaped to a distance of 13.85 meters (45’5.25”) to clip her former record mark by less than half an inch. The jump went on to earn Geubelle her 16th triple jump victory in her last 17 competitions versus collegians and padded her national lead by nearly four inches.
Her wind-legal mark was also significant as it earned Geubelle an automatic qualification to the USA Championships to be held in Des Moines, Iowa, June 19-22.
Back in Manhattan, a host of Jayhawks saw their own personal records fall inside the R.V. Christian Track Complex. A week after Paris Daniels was named the National Athlete of the Week, she posted another NCAA top-20 time. In her first 400-meter race of the season, the senior rounded the track in 52.61 to take the easy victory. Her career-best time is the 14th-fastest 400 meters in the NCAA this year and marks the third event which the St. Louis native’s time is ranked among the top-20.
Elsewhere on the track, junior Natalie Becker backed up her fourth-place performance in the 1,500 meters last week at the Big 12 Championships with another strong outing in the event Saturday. Becker posted another career-best after she pulled away from teammate Hannah Richardson down the last 400 meters to win in 4:25.28, a time which also broke the meet record. Richardson took the runner-up finish in 4:30.45.
The men’s high jump was a memorable one for the Jayhawk duo entered in the event. Junior Nick Giancana and sophomore Austin Hoag each had notable days after career-high clearances. Giancana soared to a height not many KU men have reached in recent years. The Topeka, Kan., native soared over the 2.17 meter (7’1.5”) bar on his second attempt at height to claim a runner-up finish to eventual winner and 2012 Olympic silver medalist, Erik Kynard. Giancana’s mark is the best by a Jayhawk since 1994, and was just half an inch from moving him into the school’s all-time top-five performers list. Hoag posted a top clearance of 2.07 meters (6’9.5”) to take third in the event.
It was another successful day for the KU throwers as two Jayhawks notched season-bests. Alena Krechyk notched a top mark of 68.15 meters (223’7”) on her fourth attempt of the hammer throw, her farthest throw of the year. The senior’s heave, which moved her up to No. 3 in the NCAA standings, broke the meet record and was the third time Krechyk has broken the 220-foot barrier this season. Jonathan Miller hit a personal best in the discus for the second week in a row. The sophomore out of Tribune, Kan., launched the implement to a distance of 55.92 meters (183’5”) to earn his second victory of the season.
With the final regular-season meet now in the books, the Kansas men and women now look toward the preliminary rounds of the NCAA Championships. The West Region Preliminary meet will be held in Austin, Texas, May 23-25 inside Mike T. Myers Stadium and will provide the KU athletes with opportunities to advance to the NCAA National Championship meet two weeks later. The Jayhawks will wait to see which competitors will journey to Austin when the qualifier lists are released Monday, May 13. Log on to KUAthletics.com for complete coverage of the Jayhawks’ journey through the rounds of the NCAA Championships and follow on Twitter at @KUTrack.